Don’t you just love newsletters?

Newsletters, magazines or news updates are great marketing tools. You can use them to talk to your customers, contacts, members or employees, whether you’re promoting your brand or business, or strengthening the relationship between you and the readership.

But (and this is a big but), key elements of the newsletter have to be right and, most importantly, it must be interesting to the targeted readers.

Newsletter content, format, distribution and frequency

News is good! If your newsletter contains genuine news, it will:

  • make your organisation appear dynamic and interesting
  • give you a reason to contact people
  • give the readers a reason to be interested

Features, articles and comment can also make interesting content. If you don’t think you have any news that you want to tell the world about, you can provide comment or analysis on current issues that are relevant to your business and  readers.

Sometimes, features explaining a change in the law, for example, or a ‘how to’ article can provide a genuine service. These types of articles also show that you are knowledgeable and expert in your field.

If negative news has been reported in the media, you can use a newsletter to provide explanations and background information.

Format and distribution depend on who you’re trying to reach and the best way to reach them. Whether you go for a paper or electronic format – or both – you’ll need a well managed, targeted distribution list and a visual style that reflects the brand or corporate image.

Frequency very much depends on your organisation and audience.  Often, less is more, not only because of the hours and cost involved in producing the newsletter, but also to maintain a high standard of newsy content. We all know what it’s like to be frequently bombarded with emails and letters we never open.

If your business is a small to medium size enterprise (SME), I don’t believe you should be too rigid about the frequency. You can issue vaguely dated newsletters (e.g. Autumn 2011) as and when it suits you. Nobody will mind if you don’t stick to a rigid schedule.

You can also produce short updates or bulletins whenever it suits you.

 Marketing tools

If you need some marketing collateral to hand out at exhibitions or conferences or to send out  in response to enquiries, newsletters can be a useful option.  You can include marketing information in a less ‘salesy’, more relevant and possibly more interesting way than in a marketing brochure.

Some of your newsletter’s content can be ‘re-purposed’ i.e. repackaged for other uses – and vice versa. A news story from a newsletter could be turned into a press release, or a blog from your website could be repackaged for the newsletter.

If you know enough about your target audience, you can also experiment with segmenting your newsletter recipients and testing different versions of the newsletter. This type of honing will enable you to improve readership levels over time.

Help with newsletters

If you think your organisation could benefit from a newsletter, but don’t think you have the resources to create one, please contact me (debbie@deborahlamb.net).  I can provide writing and editing services for newsletters, as well as design and layout (using InDesign).

A word about enewsletters

To email newsletters successfully takes considerable expertise. A major hurdle is distribution and getting past spam filters. Then there is the web page build. In addition, having pictures, graphics, etc. on the email itself involves building a special web page.

The key to building a good quality email list is the ‘double opt in’ mechanism.  This process requires people to subscribe twice: first, on the initial request form and secondly by replying to a confirmation email.

Personal reasons

On a more personal note, the reason why I love newsletters is because I can use my experience in both marketing and journalism to bring it all together. And InDesign is such fun!

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